Careful what you wish for: after three months of begging statewide elected leaders for a budget, Californians wake to find that, at long last and long overdue, legislators had finally pulled through. But are the terms of the new budget what voters would have wanted?
With a $19 billion deficit, many expected that the state would hike taxes and fees. Not so! The new budget features no new taxes. But it does feature a few surprising cuts, thanks in part to the Governor's line-item veto. At the last minute, he struck about $1 billion in spending out of the budget.
Those cuts cover health, education, transportation, and child care. So try not to get sick, go back to school, leave the house, or get pregnant anytime in the next year.
Another significant feature is the rainy day fund. That'll go before voters in 2012, and will increase emergency cash reserves. Currently, the budget's reserve is pretty weak. It's just $200 million, a billion dollars less than what the Governor had sought.
Getting to this point requires significant compromises. Both Republicans and Democrats supported the final version, but by only the slimmest of margins. And there may be further controversy ahead: although domestic violence services made it through the budget process intact, the Governor has indicated that he may cut those services further down the line. So, while you're busy not getting sick, going to school, leaving the house, and getting pregnant, you may find yourself on your own if you marry an abusive spouse. Thanks, Sacramento lawmakers.